Husband and wife Dennis and Rosalie Newnham reflect on their decades of selfless community support at a morning tea to recognise volunteers at the Mater Hospital.
Husband and wife Dennis and Rosalie Newnham reflect on their decades of selfless community support at a morning tea to recognise volunteers at the Mater Hospital. Lee Constable

Compassionate couple wave hospital goodbye

IT'S hard not to make friends in a hospital.

That's what decades spent volunteering at the Mackay Mater Hospital showed Dennis and Rosalie Newnham.

The community stalwarts, who will leave a hospital full of friends when they move to Western Australia to be closer to family, said their goodbyes at a Volunteers Week morning tea yesterday.

"(Volunteering here) really taught me the importance of compassion," Mr Newnham said.

"I really put everything I had learnt about compassion into practice. Looking after people's dignity and general well being was so important."

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After working as the hospital's catering and food services manager for 10 years, retirement gave Mr Newnham the chance to volunteer in the palliative care unit, something he has done each Monday since 2000.

Mrs Newnham helped with the hospital's paperwork in the day surgery and medical records departments.

While she has been a volunteer for 15 years, Mr Newnham has been with the hospital 25 years.

"I worked very closely with the Sisters of Mercy. I think a little bit of their compassion rubbed off on me," he said. "They were quite inspiring.

"I always came home on a Monday night feeling satisfied. It's very rewarding work.

"It makes you realise things could be worse. It puts things in perspective."

The Newnhams first came to Mackay in 1971 to manage the then Travel Lodge.

After leaving again, for work, Mr Newnham said he always knew Mackay would be his base; the couple returned in 1990 for their "longest stint anywhere".

"But the anchor didn't quite get caught," Mrs Newnham said.

"We are going to look at this like another adventure.

"We hope to go back into volunteering in Western Australia as well."



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